Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Lesson 8 Doubting Thomas

Doubting Thomas

Thomas is a late bloomer, I guess. A commercial fisherman, he grew up around the Sea of Galilee. Jesus came to Capernaum, calls him, and he follows. For three years Thomas follows.
Thomas's Pessimism and Courage
But Thomas is a pessimist. Some people rejoice to see a glass half full, but Thomas sees it half empty. Oh, he's full courage, but also possesses a streak of fatalism. Once, when Jesus and his disciples hear about their friend Lazarus's death near Jerusalem, the center of Jesus' opposition, Thomas comments darkly, "Yes, let's go there that we might die with him." His words are almost prophetic.
Soon, his world falls apart. Thomas sees his Master arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane and he flees for his life. On Good Friday he watches at a distance as they spike his Friend to a cross on the Roman killing grounds of Golgotha. As Jesus' life drains away, so does Thomas's hope.
Shock and Disbelief
On Saturday he is in shock. On Sunday he is so disillusioned that he doesn't gather with his fellow disciples for an evening meal. Thomas is dazed, hurt, bitter -- and lashing out. Monday morning, the disciples go looking for Thomas and tell him what has happened in his absence.
"Thomas, we were in that upper room where we'd been meeting. We lock the doors for protection. Yet, all of a sudden, Jesus appears. 'Peace, Shalom,' he says. Then he shows us his hands. There are jagged holes where the nails had been. He pulls back his tunic and shows us where the spear penetrated his chest. But he isn't weak or sick or dying. He is alive, raised from the dead!"
Afraid to Believe
"I don't believe it," barks Thomas. "I don't believe a word of it. You're seeing what you want to see. Jesus is dead. I saw him die, and part of me died with him. But he's dead, and the sooner you accept that fact, the better off you'll be. Give it up!"
Peter pleads with him. "Thomas, I saw him myself, I tell you, and he was as real as you are!"
Thomas is cold, with an edge in his voice that cuts like ice. "Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it."
But Thomas's anger cools, and by the next Sunday evening he is eating with his fellow disciples in the same locked room. Suddenly, Jesus stands among them once again and speaks -- "Shalom, peace be with you."
Detail: "The Incredulity of Saint Thomas" (1601-02) by Italian artist Caravaggio (1573-1610). Click for full painting.
All the blood drains from Thomas' face. Jesus turns to him and speaks plainly, without any hint of rancor or sarcasm, "Put your finger here, see my hands." Jesus holds out his scarred hands for him to examine. Thomas recoils. Not out of fear, really, but from a mixture of amazement and revulsion.
Jesus begins to open his outer garment and says, "Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe."
My Lord and My God
Thomas is weeping now and then begins to sob out loud. Jesus reaches out and puts a hand on his shoulder. Then Thomas slips to his knees and says in awe, "My Lord and my God!"
Thomas, "Doubting Thomas," as he is sometimes called, is the first disciple to put into words the truth that Jesus is both Lord and God. "Doubting Thomas" utters the greatest confession of faith recorded anywhere in the Bible.
Jesus replies, "Because you have seen me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed."
Preacher in the East
What happens to him? Doubting Thomas does not stay a doubter. When he sees the risen Jesus, all that Jesus has taught over the years now clicks in, and to his death Thomas is an outspoken advocate for his Lord.
Church tradition tells us that he preaches in ancient Babylon, near the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, where Iraq is today. He travels to Persia, present-day Iran, and continues to win disciples to the Christian faith.
Then he sails south to Malabar on the west coast of India in 52 AD. He preaches, establishes churches, and wins to Christ high caste Brahmins, as well as others. When the Portuguese land in India in the early 1600s, they find a group of Christians there -- the Mar Thoma Church established through Thomas' preaching a millennium and a half before.
Finally, Thomas travels to the east coast of India, preaching relentlessly. He is killed near Mylapore about 72 AD, near present-day Madras. Tradition tells us that he is thrown into a pit, then pierced through with a spear thrown by a Brahmin.
He who had so fervently proclaimed his unbelief carried the Christian message of love and forgiveness to the ends of the earth in his generation.
The Doubter Speaks Today
Thomas would speak to doubters today, to those of us who have seen our hopes and dreams destroyed. Doubting Thomas would tell his story of how Jesus' life had intercepted his own. He would tell us of his fears and his doubts. And then, with a radiant, joyful face, St. Thomas, Apostle to India, would recount his joy at seeing and knowing the risen Jesus himself. "My Lord and my God!" he would say. "My Lord and my God!"

Doubting Thomas - What can I learn from him?

Doubting Thomas was one of the 12 disciples in the Bible. Another name for Thomas was Didymus, which comes from the Hebrew and Greek words both meaning 'the twin.' He wasn't one of the more well known disciples, but he was popular enough to earn the nickname "Doubting Thomas." He was given this label because he simply did not believe that Jesus had risen from the dead. I too have been a 'Doubting Thomas.' But the experience made me a better person and made my faith so much more stronger.

Jesus appears to some of the disciples, but Thomas was not with them the first time. John 20:25 says, "So the other disciples told him, 'We have seen the Lord!' But he [Thomas] said to them, 'Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it.'"

Eight days later, Jesus appears before His disciples again: "A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, 'Peace be with you!' Then he said to Thomas, 'Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.' Thomas said to him, 'My Lord and my God!' Then Jesus told him, 'Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed' (John 20:26-29).

How truthful all this is. If Thomas hadn't been a doubter, this famous saying may not have been recorded in history. This particular saying has helped me many times in my life. When things have been going badly for me, when I have faced hardships and pain, this saying has given me hope.

Even though Thomas earned a negative label, he was not lacking in some very good qualities. He displayed great courage and loyalty. When the other disciples tried to keep Jesus from going to Bethany to raise Lazarus from the dead because of the danger from those in the area who had just earlier tried to stone Him (John 11:8), Thomas said to them, "Let us also go, that we may die with Him" (John 11:16). Thomas also asked Him one of the most famous questions. John 14:5-6 says, "Thomas said to him, 'Lord, we don't know where you are going, so how can we know the way?' Jesus answered, 'I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.'"

I think I have behaved similar to Thomas at times. I have gone through stages in my life when I questioned God. When I was in college I remember wondering how religion and science could agree. I had many questions and doubts at this time and could have been called a "Doubting Thomas." Jesus didn't have to appear to me and show me His wound, however. But He has showed Himself to me in many other ways.

Jesus has answered many prayers for me, maybe not in any miraculous way, but He has made me very much aware that He does exist. I find Jesus in my every day walk through life. Sometimes I see His humility on a street corner in the shape of a homeless man. Sometimes I see Him walking with me in my garden, pointing out the first blossoms of spring or the pretty fall colors of a red maple. I see Jesus' love in the hug my grandson gives me and when he says, "Grandma, I love you." I see Jesus in the pink of a sunset and the beautiful colors of a stained glass window. Thank goodness I haven't been a "Doubting Thomas" for some time now. I stay close to God in my daily prayers, in my mission work, and in studying the Bible. Now days I walk with Jesus everyday, that way I won't get lost and hopefully be a "Doubting Thomas" again.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Lesson 7 Lazarus, Mary & Martha

St. Lazarus of Bethany
Reputed first Bishop of Marseilles, died in the second half of the first century.
According to a tradition, or rather a series of traditions combined at different epochs, the members of the family at Bethany, the friends of Christ, together with some holy women and others of His disciples, were put out to sea by the Jews hostile to Christianity in a vessel without sails, oars, or helm, and after a miraculous voyage landed in Provence at a place called today the Saintes-Maries. It is related that they separated there to go and preach the Gospel in different parts of the southeast of Gaul. Lazarus, of whom alone we have to treat here, went to Marseilles, and, having converted a number of its inhabitants to Christianity, became their first pastor. During the first persecution under Nero he hid himself in a crypt, over which the celebrated Abbey of St.-Victor was constructed in the fifth century. In this same crypt he was interred, when he shed his blood for the faith. During the new persecution of Domitian he was cast into prison and beheaded in a spot which is believed to be identical with a cave beneath the prison Saint-Lazare. His body was later translated to Autun, and buried in the cathedral of that town. But the inhabitants of Marseilles claim to be in possession of his head which they still venerate.
Like the other legends concerning the saints of the Palestinian group, this tradition, which was believed for several centuries and which still finds some advocates, has no solid foundation. It is in a writing, contained in an eleventh century manuscript, with some other documents relating to St. Magdalen of Vézelay, that we first read of Lazarus in connection with the voyage that brought Magdalen to Gaul. Before the middle of the eleventh century there does not seem to be the slightest trace of the tradition according to which the Palestinian saints came to Provence. At the beginning of the twelfth century, perhaps through a confusion of names, it was believed at Autun that the tomb of St. Lazarus was to be found in the cathedral dedicated to St. Nazarius. A search was made and remains were discovered, which were solemnly translated and were considered to be those of him whom Christ raised from the dead, but it was not thought necessary to inquire why they should be found in France.
The question, however, deserved to be examined with care, seeing that, according to a tradition of the Greek Church, the body of St. Lazarus had been brought to Constantinople, just as all the other saints of the Palestinian group were said to have died in the Orient, and to have been buried, translated, and honoured there. It is only in the thirteenth century that the belief that Lazarus had come to Gaul with his two sisters and had been Bishop of Marseilles spread in Provence. It is true that a letter is cited (its origin is uncertain), written in 1040 by Pope Benedict IX on the occasion of the consecration of the new church of St.-Victor in which Lazarus is mentioned. But in this text the pope speaks only of relics of St. Lazarus, merely calling him the saint who was raised again to life. He does not speak of him as having lived in Provence, or as having been Bishop of Marseilles.
The most ancient Provençal text alluding to the episcopacy of St. Lazarus is a passage in the "Otia imperialia" of Gervase of Tillbury (1212). Thus the belief in his Provençal apostolate is of very late date, and its supporters must produce more ancient and reliable documentary evidence. In the crypt of St.-Victor at Marseilles an epitaph of the of the fifth century has been discovered, which informs us that a bishop named Lazarus was buried there. In the opinion of the most competent archæologists, however, this personage is Lazarus, Bishop of Aix, who was consecrated at Marseilles about 407, and who, having had to abandon his see in 411, passed some time in Palestine, whence he returned to end his days in Marseilles. It is more than likely that it is the name of this bishop and his return from Palestine, that gave rise to the legend of the coming of the Biblical Lazarus to Provence, and his apostolate in the city of Marseilles.
The miracle of Lazarus

The Raising of Lazarus (1967-69) by Ivor Williams
In the Gospel of John (John 11:1) Lazarus, also called Lazarus of Bethany or Lazarus of the Four Days was a man who lived in the town of Bethany ("Lazarus from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha", John 11:1). The sisters are immediately identified: "Mary was the one who had anointed the Lord with perfumed oil and dried his feet with her hair; it was her brother Lazarus who was ill." So the sisters sent word to Jesus that the one he loved was ill. Jesus tarried where he was, and when he arrived, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days, and Martha reproached him. (Jesus had only delayed his travel by two days, implying that even if he had set out immediately, Lazarus would have died.) When Jesus assured her that Lazarus would rise, she took his meaning for the resurrection on Judgment Day, to which he replied, "I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die" (John 11:25–26 KJV). In the presence of a crowd of Jewish mourners, Jesus had the stone rolled away from the tomb and bade Lazarus to come out, and so he did, still wrapped in his grave-cloths. Jesus then called for his followers (friends and family alike) to remove the grave-cloths. The narrator claims many other Jews were convinced of Jesus' divinity after visiting Lazarus, but says no more of the individual. The miracle, the longest coherent narrative in John aside from the Passion, is the climax of John's "signs". It explains the crowds seeking Jesus on Palm Sunday, and leads directly to the decision of Caiaphas and the Sanhedrin to kill Jesus.
The developed Lazarus legend
Lazarus the beggar and Lazarus the resurrected were combined in Romanesque iconography carved on portals in Burgundy and Provence.[6]
According to Christian tradition recorded in the 13th century Golden Legend, Lazarus was the brother of Martha and Mary Magdalene, a Pharisee, but because of the rumoured plots fled for his life to Cyprus. There he later became the first bishop of Larnaka/Kittim, appointed directly by Paul and Barnabas, and lived another thirty years. Further establishing the apostolic nature of Lazarus' appointment was the story that the bishop's pallium was presented to Lazarus by the Virgin Mary, who had woven it herself. Such apostolic connections were central to the claims to autocephaly made by the bishops of Kittim—subject to the patriarch of Jerusalem—during the period 325–413. The church of Kittim was declared (or confirmed) self-governing in 413. Stories[citation needed] say that he would always include something sweet in every meal. That was when he observed someone stealing a clay pot, causing him to smile and say with a laugh, "clay stealing clay".
In the West, an alternative medieval tradition sent Mary, Martha, and Lazarus to Gaul after the Crucifixion. Provencal tradition, in particular, held Lazarus as the first bishop of Marseille, while Martha purportedly went on to tame a terrible beast in nearby Tarascon. Pilgrims visited their tombs at the abbey of Vézelay in Burgundy. In the Abbey of the Trinity at Vendôme, a phylactery was said to contain a tear shed by Jesus at the tomb of Lazarus. The cathedral of Autun, not far away, is dedicated to Lazarus as Saint Lazare.
In the section In paradisum, which often appears embedded in the Requiem, the deceased is wished to Paradise—In paradisum deducant te Angeli— with Lazarus, who once was poor (cum Lazaro quondam paupere); the text reminds us how often the Lazarus of John, who possessed a rock-cut tomb and was resurrected, has been conflated with the beggar Lazarus of Luke.
The Legenda Aurea records the grand lifestyle imagined for Lazarus and his sisters in the 14th century:
Mary Magdalene had her surname of Magdalo, a castle, and was born of right noble lineage and parents, which were descended of the lineage of kings. And her father was named Cyrus, and her mother Eucharis. She with her brother Lazarus, and her sister Martha, possessed the castle of Magdalo, which is two miles from Nazareth, and Bethany, the castle which is nigh to Jerusalem, and also a great part of Jerusalem, which, all these things they departed among them. In such wise that Mary had the castle Magdalo, whereof she had her name Magdalene. And Lazarus had the part of the city of Jerusalem, and Martha had to her part Bethany. And when Mary gave herself to all delights of the body, and Lazarus entended all to knighthood, Martha, which was wise, governed nobly her brother's part and also her sister's, and also her own, and administered to knights, and her servants, and to poor men, such necessities as they needed. Nevertheless, after the ascension of our Lord, they sold all these things. (Legenda Aurea, Book iv, "Of Mary Magdalene")
Tombs of Lazarus
The first tomb in Bethany is a place of pilgrimage today. Lazarus's second tomb in Cyprus is the site of the Byzantine church, the most notable feature of ancient Kittim (now Larnaka). The discovery and transfer of his relics from Cyprus to Constantinople in 898 is remembered each year on October 17, apostrophized by Arethas, bishop of Caesarea; however, on November 2, 1972, human remains in a marble sarcophagus under the altar were discovered during renovation works in the church at Larnaka, and were identified with part of the saint's relics.
The relics from Constantinople were transferred to France in 1204 as part of the booty of war from the Fourth Crusade.
Main article: Order of Saint Lazarus
The Military and Hospitaller Order of Saint Lazarus of Jerusalem is a religious/military order, purportedly dating back to the First Crusade. The Order is run by two distinct channels of authority, referred to as the Malta Obedience and the Paris Obedience.
Liturgical references
Lazarus is honored as a saint by those Christian churches which keep the commemoration of saints, although on different days, according to local traditions.
In the Eastern Orthodox Church as well as the Byzantine Catholic Church, the day before Palm Sunday is celebrated as Lazarus Saturday. This day, together with Palm Sunday, hold a unique position in the church year, as days of joy and triumph between the penitence of Great Lent and the mourning of Holy Week.[7] During the preceding week, the hymns in the Lenten Triodion track the sickness and then the death of Lazarus, and Christ's journey from beyond Jordan to Bethany. The scripture readings and hymns for Lazarus Saturday focus on the resurrection of Lazarus as a foreshadowing of the Resurrection of Christ, and a promise of the General Resurrection. The Gospel narrative is interpreted in the hymns as illustrating the two natures of Christ: his humanity in asking, "Where have ye laid him?" (John 11:34), and his divinity by commanding Lazarus to come forth from the dead (John 11:43). Many of the Resurectional hymns of the normal Sunday service, which are omitted on Palm Sunday, are chanted on Lazaurs Saturday. During the Divine Liturgy, the Baptismal Hymn, "As many as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ" (Romans 6:3), is sung in place of the Trisagion. Although the forty days of Great Lent end on the day before Lazarus Saturday, the day is still observed as a fast; however, it is somewhat mitigated. In Russia, it is traditional to eat caviar on Lazarus Saturday.
In the Roman Catholic Church Saint Lazarus' memorial is on June 21. In Cuba a major festival is dedicated to San Lázaro (synchronised with Babalu Ayé in Santería), but on December 17. He is commemorated in the Calendar of Saints of the Lutheran Church on July 29 together with Mary and Martha.
Lazarus is also a representation of Omulu/Abaluaye in Brazilian Umbanda.
In Christian funerals the idea of the deceased being raised by the Lord as Lazarus was raised is often expressed in prayer.
In modern culture
Well-known as an established tale, Lazarus has appeared countless times in music, writing and art. A few example citations of the tale:
· Among the painted depictions of Lazarus is the work Lazarus Breaking His Fast by Walter Sickert, which hangs in the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art in Edinburgh and "Gare Saint-Lazare" by Claude Monet, after a train station in Paris by the same name.
· The bands The Boo Radleys, Chimaira, Fozzy, moe., Placebo, and Porcupine Tree have each composed a song titled "Lazarus".
· Other songs that refer to Lazarus include "Our Friend Lazarus Sleeps" by I Am Ghost, "Sleepwalk Capsules" by At the Drive-In, "Ali in the Jungle" by The Hours, "Lazarus Man" by Terry Callier, "Long Snake Moan" by PJ Harvey, "Lazarus (In The Wilderness) by Funeral for a Friend, "Death March" by Jedi Mind Tricks, "The Lazarus Heart" by Sting and "Ghost" by Clutch.
· Dave Swarbrick has also recently formed a band called Lazarus with Maartin Allcock and Kevin Dempsey.
· Lazarus is mentioned in several notable works of literature, including Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky, "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" by T. S. Eliot, A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller, Jr., Moby-Dick by Herman Melville, A Separate Peace by John Knowles, The Famished Road by Ben Okri, "[Jude the Obscure]" by Thomas Hardy, and "Lazarus" by Leonid Andreyev.
· Several novels of Robert A. Heinlein involve Lazarus Long, a name taken by Woodrow Wilson Smith, a character who lives over 2000 years.
· Sylvia Plath wrote a poem called "Lady Lazarus".
· On film, the name "Lazarus" is used in the movies Mr. Stitch, Casper, Black Snake Moan and Slam.
· In computer software, Lazarus is referenced by the 1995 computer game Diablo, the DiskDoctor utility in the Commodore Amiga Old File System, and the video games Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories and BioShock.
· On television, "Lazarus" appears in The X-Files ("Lazarus"), Stargate SG-1 ("Cold Lazarus"), Doctor Who ("The Lazarus Experiment"), and Star Trek episodes "The Alternative Factor" and "Requiem for Methuselah".
· In the Batman comic books, villain Ra's al Ghul renegerates his body in a Lazarus pit.
Martha (Judæo-Aramaic מַרְתָּא Martâ "The lady", French Sainte Marthe) is a figure mentioned only in the Bible. No other historical detail about her is known. According to the gospel of John, she was the sister of Lazarus and Mary, and she witnessed her brother's resurrection. In the canonical Scripture, Martha is mentioned only in Luke 10:38-42; and John 11, 12, sqq. The Aramaic form occurs in a Nabatean inscription found at Puteoli, and now in the Naples Museum; it is dated AD. 5 (Corpus Inscr. Semit., 158); also in a Palmyrene inscription, where the Greek translation has the form Marthein, AD. 179. She is a character in the gnostic Pistis Sophia. She is mentioned in the gospel
Biblical Martha
Mary, Martha, and Lazarus are depicted by John as living at Bethany, but Luke would seem to imply that they were, at least at one time, living in Galilee; he does not mention the name of the town, but it may have been Magdala, and we should thus, supposing Mary of Bethany and Mary Magdalene to be the same person, understand the appellative "Magdalene". The words of John (11:1) seem to imply a change of residence for the family. It is possible, too, that Luke has displaced the incident referred to in Chapter 10. The likeness between the pictures of Martha presented by Luke and John is very remarkable. The familiar intercourse between the Saviour of the world and the humble family which Luke depicts is dwelt on by John when he tells us that "Jesus loved Martha, and her sister Mary, and Lazarus" (11:5). Again the picture of Martha's anxiety (John 11:20-21, 39) accords with the picture of her who was "busy about much serving" (Luke 10:40); so also in John 12:2: "They made him a supper there: and Martha served." But St. John has given us a glimpse of the other and deeper side of her character when he depicts her growing faith in Christ's Divinity (11:20-27), a faith which was the occasion of the words: "I am the resurrection and the life." The Evangelist has beautifully indicated the change that came over Martha after that interview: "When she had said these things, she went and called her sister Mary secretly, saying: The Master is come, and calleth for thee."
Difficulties have been raised about the last supper at Bethania. John seems to put it six days before the Pasch, and, so some conclude, in the house of Martha; while the Synoptic account puts it two days before the Pasch, and in the house of Simon the Leper. We need not try to avoid this difficulty by asserting that there were two suppers; for John does not say that the supper took place six days before, but only that Christ arrived in Bethania six days before the Pasch; nor does he say that it was in the house of Martha. We are surely justified in arguing that, since Matthew and Mark place the scene in the house of Simon, St. John must be understood to say the same; it remains to be proved that Martha could not "serve" in Simon's house.

St Martha's Collegiate Church in Tarascon
Expansion of the Martha tradition
According to Eastern Orthodox tradition, Martha went to Cyprus with her siblings Mary and Lazarus, where Lazarus was appointed the first bishop of Kition. All three died in Cyprus.
According to one legend, Martha left Judea after Jesus's death, around AD 48, and went to Provence with her sister Mary (potentially Mary Magdalene) and her brother Lazarus. Martha first settled in Avignon (now in France), then went to Tarascon, where a monster, the Tarasque, was a constant threat to the population. Martha managed to tame the monster and eventually died in Tarascon, where she was buried. Her tomb is located in the crypt of the local Collegiate Church.
Martha is a Christian saint in the Eastern Orthodox churches and the Lutheran Church. Her feast day is June 4th and July 29 in the Roman Catholic tradition. Among the Orthodox, she is commemorated collectively with the other Myrrh-bearing Women on the Sunday of the Myrrhbearers (the Third Sunday of Pascha—i.e., the second Sunday after Easter). She also figures in the commemorations of Lazarus Saturday (the day before Palm Sunday).

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Lesson 6 The Sons of Zebedee John & James

St. John

John was the son of Zebedee and Salome, and the brother of James the Greater. In the Gospels the two brothers are often called after their father "the sons of Zebedee" and received from Christ the honourable title of Boanerges, i.e. "sons of thunder" (Mark 3:17). Originally they were fishermen and fished with their father in the Lake of Genesareth. According to the usual and entirely probable explanation they became, however, for a time disciples of John the Baptist, and were called by Christ from the circle of John's followers, together with Peter and Andrew, to become His disciples (John 1:35-42). The first disciples returned with their new Master from the Jordan to Galilee and apparently both John and the others remained for some time with Jesus (cf. John ii, 12, 22; iv, 2, 8, 27 sqq.). Yet after the second return from Judea, John and his companions went back again to their trade of fishing until he and they were called by Christ to definitive discipleship (Matthew 4:18-22; Mark 1:16-20). In the lists of the Apostles John has the second place (Acts 1:13), the third (Mark 3:17), and the fourth (Matthew 10:3; Luke 6:14), yet always after James with the exception of a few passages (Luke 8:51; 9:28 in the Greek text; Acts 1:13).
From James being thus placed first, the conclusion is drawn that John was the younger of the two brothers. In any case John had a prominent position in the Apostolic body. Peter, James, and he were the only witnesses of the raising of Jairus's daughter (Mark 5:37), of the Transfiguration (Matthew 17:1), and of the Agony in Gethsemani (Matthew 26:37). Only he and Peter were sent into the city to make the preparation for the Last Supper (Luke 22:8). At the Supper itself his place was next to Christ on Whose breast he leaned (John 13:23, 25). According to the general interpretation John was also that "other disciple" who with Peter followed Christ after the arrest into the palace of the high-priest (John 18:15). John alone remained near his beloved Master at the foot of the Cross on Calvary with the Mother of Jesus and the pious women, and took the desolate Mother into his care as the last legacy of Christ (John 19:25-27). After the Resurrection John with Peter was the first of the disciples to hasten to the grave and he was the first to believe that Christ had truly risen (John 20:2-10). When later Christ appeared at the Lake of Genesareth John was also the first of the seven disciples present who recognized his Master standing on the shore (John 21:7). The Fourth Evangelist has shown us most clearly how close the relationship was in which he always stood to his Lord and Master by the title with which he is accustomed to indicate himself without giving his name: "the disciple whom Jesus loved". After Christ's Ascension and the Descent of the Holy Spirit, John took, together with Peter, a prominent part in the founding and guidance of the Church. We see him in the company of Peter at the healing of the lame man in the Temple (Acts 3:1 sqq.). With Peter he is also thrown into prison (Acts 4:3). Again, we find him with the prince of the Apostles visiting the newly converted in Samaria (Acts 8:14).
We have no positive information concerning the duration of this activity in Palestine. Apparently John in common with the other Apostles remained some twelve years in this first field of labour, until the persecution of Herod Agrippa I led to the scattering of the Apostles through the various provinces of the Roman Empire (cf. Acts 12:1-17). Notwithstanding the opinion to the contrary of many writers, it does not appear improbable that John then went for the first time to Asia Minor and exercised his Apostolic office in various provinces there. In any case a Christian community was already in existence at Ephesus before Paul's first labours there (cf. "the brethren", Acts 18:27, in addition to Priscilla and Aquila), and it is easy to connect a sojourn of John in these provinces with the fact that the Holy Ghost did not permit the Apostle Paul on his second missionary journey to proclaim the Gospel in Asia, Mysia, and Bithynia (Acts 16:6 sq.). There is just as little against such an acceptation in the later account in Acts of St. Paul's third missionary journey. But in any case such a sojourn by John in Asia in this first period was neither long nor uninterrupted. He returned with the other disciples to Jerusalem for the Apostolic Council (about A.D. 51). St. Paul in opposing his enemies in Galatia names John explicitly along with Peter and James the Less as a "pillar of the Church", and refers to the recognition which his Apostolic preaching of a Gospel free from the law received from these three, the most prominent men of the old Mother-Church at Jerusalem (Galatians 2:9). When Paul came again to Jerusalem after the second and after the third journey (Acts 18:22; 21:17 sq.) he seems no longer to have met John there. Some wish to draw the conclusion from this that John left Palestine between the years 52 and 55.
Of the other New-Testament writings, it is only from the three Epistles of John and the Apocalypse that anything further is learned concerning the person of the Apostle. We may be permitted here to take as proven the unity of the author of these three writings handed down under the name of John and his identity with the Evangelist. Both the Epistles and the Apocalypse, however, presuppose that their author John belonged to the multitude of personal eyewitnesses of the life and work of Christ (cf. especially 1 John 1:1-5; 4:14), that he had lived for a long time in Asia Minor, was thoroughly acquainted with the conditions existing in the various Christian communities there, and that he had a position of authority recognized by all Christian communities as leader of this part of the Church. Moreover, the Apocalypse tells us that its author was on the island of Patmos "for the word of God and for the testimony of Jesus", when he was honoured with the heavenly Revelation contained in the Apocalypse (Revelation 1:9).
The author of the Second and Third Epistles of John designates himself in the superscription of each by the name (ho presbyteros), "the ancient", "the old". Papias, Bishop of Hierapolis, also uses the same name to designate the "Presbyter John" as in addition to Aristion, his particular authority, directly after he has named the presbyters Andrew, Peter, Philip, Thomas, James, John, and Matthew (in Eusebius, "Hist. eccl.", III, xxxix, 4). Eusebius was the first to draw, on account of these words of Papias, the distinction between a Presbyter John and the Apostle John, and this distinction was also spread in Western Europe by St. Jerome on the authority of Eusebius. The opinion of Eusebius has been frequently revived by modern writers, chiefly to support the denial of the Apostolic origin of the Fourth Gospel. The distinction, however, has no historical basis. First, the testimony of Eusebius in this matter is not worthy of belief. He contradicts himself, as in his "Chronicle" he expressly calls the Apostle John the teacher of Papias ("ad annum Abrah 2114"), as does Jerome also in Ep. lxxv, "Ad Theodoram", iii, and in "De viris illustribus", xviii. Eusebius was also influenced by his erroneous doctrinal opinions as he denied the Apostolic origin of the Apocalypse and ascribed this writing to an author differing from St. John but of the same name. St. Irenæus also positively designates the Apostle and Evangelist John as the teacher of Papias, and neither he nor any other writer before Eusebius had any idea of a second John in Asia (Adv. haer., V, xxxiii, 4). In what Papias himself says the connection plainly shows that in this passage by the word presbyters only Apostles can be understood. If John is mentioned twice the explanation lies in the peculiar relationship in which Papias stood to this, his most eminent teacher. By inquiring of others he had learned some things indirectly from John, just as he had from the other Apostles referred to. In addition he had received information concerning the teachings and acts of Jesus directly, without the intervention of others, from the still living "Presbyter John", as he also had from Aristion. Thus the teaching of Papias casts absolutely no doubt upon what the New-Testament writings presuppose and expressly mention concerning the residence of the Evangelist John in Asia.
The Christian writers of the second and third centuries testify to us as a tradition universally recognized and doubted by no one that the Apostle and Evangelist John lived in Asia Minor in the last decades of the first century and from Ephesus had guided the Churches of that province. In his "Dialogue with Tryphon" (Chapter 81) St. Justin Martyr refers to "John, one of the Apostles of Christ" as a witness who had lived "with us", that is, at Ephesus. St. Irenæus speaks in very many places of the Apostle John and his residence in Asia and expressly declares that he wrote his Gospel at Ephesus (Adv. haer., III, i, 1), and that he had lived there until the reign of Trajan (loc. cit., II, xxii, 5). With Eusebius (Hist. eccl., III, xiii, 1) and others we are obliged to place the Apostle's banishment to Patmos in the reign of the Emperor Domitian (81-96). Previous to this, according to Tertullian's testimony (De praescript., xxxvi), John had been thrown into a cauldron of boiling oil before the Porta Latina at Rome without suffering injury. After Domitian's death the Apostle returned to Ephesus during the reign of Trajan, and at Ephesus he died about A.D. 100 at a great age. Tradition reports many beautiful traits of the last years of his life: that he refused to remain under the same roof with Cerinthus (Irenaeus "Ad. haer.", III, iii, 4); his touching anxiety about a youth who had become a robber (Clemens Alex., "Quis dives salvetur", xiii); his constantly repeated words of exhortation at the end of his life, "Little children, love one another" (Jerome, "Comm. in ep. ad. Gal.", vi, 10). On the other hand the stories told in the apocryphal Acts of John, which appeared as early as the second century, are unhistorical invention.
St. John is commemorated on 27 December, which he originally shared with St. James the Greater. At Rome the feast was reserved to St. John alone at an early date, though both names are found in the Carthage Calendar, the Hieronymian Martyrology, and the Gallican liturgical books. The "departure" or "assumption" of the Apostle is noted in the Menology of Constantinople and the Calendar of Naples (26 September), which seems to have been regarded as the date of his death. The feast of St. John before the Latin Gate, supposed to commemorate the dedication of the church near the Porta Latina, is first mentioned in the Sacramentary of Adrian I (772-95).
Early Christian art usually represents St. John with an eagle, symbolizing the heights to which he rises in the first chapter of his Gospel. The chalice as symbolic of St. John, which, according to some authorities, was not adopted until the thirteenth century, is sometimes interpreted with reference to the Last Supper, again as connected with the legend according to which St. John was handed a cup of poisoned wine, from which, at his blessing, the poison rose in the shape of a serpent. Perhaps the most natural explanation is to be found in the words of Christ to John and James "My chalice indeed you shall drink" (Matthew 20:23).
St. James the Greater
(Hebrew Yakob; Septuagint Iakob; N.T. Greek Iakobos; a favourite name among the later Jews).
The son of Zebedee and Salome (Cf. Matthew 27:56; Mark 15:40; 16:1). Zahn asserts that Salome was the daughter of a priest. James is styled "the Greater" to distinguish him from the Apostle James "the Less", who was probably shorter of stature. We know nothing of St. James's early life. He was the brother of John, the beloved disciple, and probably the elder of the two.
His parents seem to have been people of means as appears from the following facts.
· Zebedee was a fisherman of the Lake of Galilee, who probably lived in or near Bethsaida (John 1:44), perhaps in Capharnaum; and had some boatmen or hired men as his usual attendants (Mark 1:20).
· Salome was one of the pious women who afterwards followed Christ and "ministered unto him of their substance" (cf. Matthew 27:55, sq.; Mark 15:40; 16:1; Luke 8:2 sq.; 23:55-24:1).
· St. John was personally known to the high-priest (John 18:16); and must have had wherewithal to provide for the Mother of Jesus (John 19:27).
It is probable, according to Acts 4:13, that John (and consequently his brother James) had not received the technical training of the rabbinical schools; in this sense they were unlearned and without any official position among the Jews. But, according to the social rank of their parents, they must have been men of ordinary education, in the common walks of Jewish life. They had frequent opportunity of coming in contact with Greek life and language, which were already widely spread along the shores of the Galilean Sea.
Relation of St. James to Jesus
Some authors, comparing John 19:25 with Matthew 28:56 and Mark 15:40, identify, and probably rightly so, Mary the Mother of James the Less and of Joseph in Mark and Matthew with "Mary of Cleophas" in John. As the name of Mary Magdalen occurs in the three lists, they identify further Salome in Mark with "the mother of the sons of Zebedee" in Matthew; finally they identify Salome with "his mother's sister" in John. They suppose, for this last identification, that four women are designated by John 19:25; the Syriac "Peshito" gives the reading: "His mother and his mother's sister, and Mary of Cleophas and Mary Magdalen." If this last supposition is right, Salome was a sister of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and James the Greater and John were first cousins of the Lord; this may explain the discipleship of the two brothers, Salome's request and their own claim to the first position in His kingdom, and His commendation of the Blessed Virgin to her own nephew. But it is doubtful whether the Greek admits of this construction without the addition or the omission of kai (and). Thus the relationship of St. James to Jesus remains doubtful.
His life and apostolate
The Galilean origin of St. James in some degree explains the energy of temper and the vehemence of character which earned for him and St. John the name of Boanerges, "sons of thunder" (Mark 3:17); the Galilean race was religious, hardy, industrious, brave, and the strongest defender of the Jewish nation.
When John the Baptist proclaimed the kingdom of the Messias, St. John became a disciple (John 1:35); he was directed to "the Lamb of God" and afterwards brought his brother James to the Messias; the obvious meaning of John 1:41, is that St. Andrew finds his brother (St. Peter) first and that afterwards St. John (who does not name himself, according to his habitual and characteristic reserve and silence about himself) finds his brother (St. James). The call of St. James to the discipleship of the Messias is reported in a parallel or identical narration by Matthew 4:18-22; Mark 1:19 sq.; and Luke 5:1-11. The two sons of Zebedee, as well as Simon (Peter) and his brother Andrew with whom they were in partnership (Luke 5:10), were called by the Lord upon the Sea of Galilee, where all four with Zebedee and his hired servants were engaged in their ordinary occupation of fishing. The sons of Zebedee "forthwith left their nets and father, and followed him" (Matthew 4:22), and became "fishers of men".
St. James was afterwards with the other eleven called to the Apostleship (Matthew 10:1-4; Mark 3:13-19; Luke 6:12-16; Acts 1:13). In all four lists the names of Peter and Andrew, James and John form the first group, a prominent and chosen group (cf. Mark 13:3); especially Peter, James, and John. These three Apostles alone were admitted to be present at the miracle of the raising of Jairus's daughter (Mark 5:37; Luke 8:51), at the Transfiguration (Mark 9:1; Matthew 17:1; Luke 9:28), and the Agony in Gethsemani (Matthew 26:37; Mark 14:33). The fact that the name of James occurs always (except in Luke 8:51; 9:28; Acts 1:13 -- Greek Text) before that of his brother seems to imply that James was the elder of the two. It is worthy of notice that James is never mentioned in the Gospel of St. John; this author observes a humble reserve not only with regard to himself, but also about the members of his family.
Several incidents scattered through the Synoptics suggest that James and John had that particular character indicated by the name "Boanerges," sons of thunder, given to them by the Lord (Mark 3:17); they were burning and impetuous in their evangelical zeal and severe in temper. The two brothers showed their fiery temperament against "a certain man casting out devils" in the name of the Christ; John, answering, said: "We [James is probably meant] forbade him, because he followeth not with us" (Luke 9:49). When the Samaritans refused to receive Christ, James and John said: "Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them?" (Luke 9:54; cf. 9:49).
His martyrdom
On the last journey to Jerusalem, their mother Salome came to the Lord and said to Him: "Say that these my two sons may sit, the one on thy right hand, and the other on thy left, in thy kingdom" (Matthew 20:21). And the two brothers, still ignorant of the spiritual nature of the Messianic Kingdom, joined with their mother in this eager ambition (Mark 10:37). And on their assertion that they are willing to drink the chalice that He drinks of, and to be baptized with the baptism of His sufferings, Jesus assured them that they will share His sufferings (Mark 5:38-39).
James won the crown of martyrdom fourteen years after this prophecy, A.D. 44. Herod Agrippa I, son of Aristobulus and grandson of Herod the Great, reigned at that time as "king" over a wider dominion than that of his grandfather. His great object was to please the Jews in every way, and he showed great regard for the Mosaic Law and Jewish customs. In pursuance of this policy, on the occasion of the Passover of A.D. 44, he perpetrated cruelties upon the Church, whose rapid growth incensed the Jews. The zealous temper of James and his leading part in the Jewish Christian communities probably led Agrippa to choose him as the first victim. "He killed James, the brother of John, with the sword." (Acts 12:1-2). According to a tradition, which, as we learn from Eusebius (Hist. Eccl., II, ix, 2, 3), was received from Clement of Alexandria (in the seventh book of his lost "Hypotyposes"), the accuser who led the Apostle to judgment, moved by his confession, became himself a Christian, and they were beheaded together. As Clement testifies expressly that the account was given him "by those who were before him," this tradition has a better foundation than many other traditions and legends respecting the Apostolic labours and death of St. James, which are related in the Latin "Passio Jacobi Majoris", the Ethiopic "Acts of James", and so on.
St. James in Spain
The tradition asserting that James the Greater preached the Gospel in Spain, and that his body was translated to Compostela, claims more serious consideration.
According to this tradition St. James the Greater, having preached Christianity in Spain, returned to Judea and was put to death by order of Herod; his body was miraculously translated to Iria Flavia in the northwest of Spain, and later to Compostela, which town, especially during the Middle Ages, became one of the most famous places of pilgrimage in the world. The vow of making a pilgrimage to Compostela to honour the sepulchre of St. James is still reserved to the pope, who alone of his own or ordinary right can dispense from it. In the twelfth century was founded the Order of Knights of St. James of Compostela.
With regard to the preaching of the Gospel in Spain by St. James the greater, several difficulties have been raised:
· St. James suffered martyrdom A.D. 44 (Acts 12:2), and, according to the tradition of the early Church, he had not yet left Jerusalem at this time (cf. Clement of Alexandria, "Strom.", VI; Apollonius, quoted by Eusebius, "Hist. Eccl." VI, xviii).
· St. Paul in his Epistle to the Romans (A.D. 58) expressed the intention to visit Spain (Romans 15:24) just after he had mentioned (15:20) that he did not "build upon another man's foundation."
· The argument ex silentio: although the tradition that James founded an Apostolic see in Spain was current in the year 700, no certain mention of such tradition is to be found in the genuine writings of early writers nor in the early councils; the first certain mention we find in the ninth century, in Notker, a monk of St. Gall (Martyrol., 25 July), Walafried Strabo (Poema de XII Apost.), and others.
· The tradition was not unanimously admitted afterwards, while numerous scholars reject it. The Bollandists however defended it (see Acta Sanctorum, July, VI and VII, where other sources are given).
The authenticity of the sacred relic of Compostela has been questioned and is still doubted. Even if St. James the Greater did not preach the Christian religion in Spain, his body may have been brought to Compostela, and this was already the opinion of Notker. According to another tradition, the relics of the Apostle are kept in the church of St-Saturnin at Toulouse (France), but it is not improbable that such sacred relics should have been divided between two churches. A strong argument in favour of the authenticity of the sacred relics of Compostela is the Bull of Leo XIII, "Omn